El Paso… a new top 10 folk art environment? Casa de Azucar is a sweet gem

Rufino Loya Rivas  |  Casa de Azucar

4301 Leavell
El Paso, TX

“One idea followed another, and the more I did, the more I wanted to do.  
The first thing was very simple, the most simple of all.”

“Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home” by Jill Nokes, with Pat Jasper

Words can’t express exactly how awe-inspiring this site is (maybe the photos can…but being there is really the only way to experience the magic).  It wasn’t until I read Jill Nokes book, had I ever heard of the Casa de Azucar (House of Sugar) created over the last 30+ years by Rufino Loyas.  Tucked next to Highway 54, in a modest neighborhood, this self-taught environments rivals most.
Mr. Loya, a retired Levi Strauss worker, came home each night from a long day and worked on making good on his promise to his wife to make something beautiful for her.  Inspired by the churches he saw when growing up in Mexico and his love of El Paso, Mr. Loya has done more than his part in making is little part of the world beautiful.  
With the generous help of gallery owner Adair Margo, with interpreting, this morning became a “moment”.  Mr. Loyas Rivas crafted his yard and concrete fence by hand, and then painted the surfaces mostly in white, with light blue accents.  The colorful shrines pop along the fence.  Confection-like spires are so uniform and well crafted that one almost thinks that they were manufactured in some way other than with the skillful hands of Rufino Loya Rivas. 
H & H Coffee Shop and Carwash
701 E Yandell Dr
El Paso, TX
And now for something completely different…but still has that handmade touch.  We lunched at the carwash and had some of the best chile rellenos I have ever had.  And my car is amazingly clean, considering the miles. 
Alligator Park aka Plaza de los Lagartos—Luis Jimenez
Between Mesa and Oregon Streets
Downtown, El Paso
No, giant gators aren’t taking over El Paso…The park in San Jacinto Plaza used to be home to alligators.  Legend has it that some people worried that cold nights might harm the gators, and the humane (and crazy) thing to do was to grab them from the ponds, wrap them in coffee sacks and bring them to the local saloons.  And then return them to the pond in the morning.  Eventually, the city had to relocate the alligators, as the risk to gator and reveler were more than they wanted to claim.
Today a statue by Luis Jimenez commemorates these beloved alligators. 
Odometer: 1820
Cartunes: Ryan Adams 29, Kathleen Edwards, Talking Heads Stop Making Sense…